Album Review: J’son – “Growing Pains”
Published on May 2, 2012
Reviewed by: Neil Christian
Rating: 5.2 (Out of 10)
Almost every musician has their experimental album, albums which are sonically or thematically different from their usual body of work. These projects can and have often turned into classics when they have worked such as Kanye’s 808’s & Heartbreak (of course, people will always debate, but there is a reason why the project achieved critical acclaim). On the flipside of course, you have albums such as Common’s Electric Circus and the more recent fiasco that Lasers was. It is a very fine balance that needs to be struck; some artists can successfully create an album different from their normal sound, while for others the original tried and true method is best stuck with. Unfortunately in J’son’s case, the album finds its place between Lasers and Universal Mind Control.
Let’s get to the positives, of which there are a lot. Straight off the bat, the intro is striking and one of the best intros to drop on a CHH project this year, beginning with a deceptively subtle keys intro and transitions into a crescendo of strings and drums. Artists take note; this is how you begin a project.
In fact, the intro track is a small taste of the variety of beautiful production that is to be found on this project. From the token southern banger The Beast, which a bouncing kick line that will have you jumping out of your seat to the keys soaked ballad My Joy to the commercial/reggae/pop mix of Credits Roll, there is enough variety on this project to keep the most die-hard music fans happy.
To go with great production are the great features. Most features work very well on the project. Jai brings a subdued, mellower hook to My Joy, which is quite different from her normal upbeat feature work, buts works delightfully well. JR is of course, JR on Secrets, (JR is the epitome of an artist; that man can and has done nothing wrong musically) and Butta P and Trubble come through with their solid verses once again.
In fact almost everything works perfectly on this project, except for the main draw, the artist himself. J’son does not fit the album. Take the final song Goodbye which features J’son trying to rhyme double time. Applaud him for the effort, but the beat and rhythm does not fit that type of flow. Or It’s Alright which features popular CCM artist’ Mike’s chair. This song would perfectly on at home on a Mike’s Chair album amongst the other worship/ballad songs, but on this album it is out of place and leaves the listener disorientated. In fact on every song, the forgettable parts are J’son’s features.
Even The Beast, which features a spectacular beat, is ruined by the silly drawn out syllable at the end of the first line. I understand its satire a play on delivery rather than a play on words but ultimately it ruins the song and the song became an immediate skip for me. The project has terrible sequencing and the mixing and mastering left a lot to be desired. And of course a lot more can be said on the content of the album, especially the unnecessary 2 Human which features a usually solid Lecrae dropping a rather forgettable verse, but I will digress as this review has already got too long.
This project will go down as J’son’s experimental album, despite being quite a commercial album. An album is an artist’s body of work and when that artist looks like a stranger on his own project, there is something amiss there. With some of the best production done in recent years on a CHH project, this is an average project, that I don’t think will stand the test of time.
Rating – 5.2
1. Music – 8
2. Flow – 4
3. Creativity / Originality – 2
4. Relevancy – 5
5. Content & Character – 5
6. Credibility & Confidence – 5
7. Personality – 5
8. Presentation Quality – 7
9. Overall Production Quality – 6
10. Potential Impact – 5